Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, April 6, 2014, pg. 3
The building at 200 S. Superior St. known in recent years as the Subway building is apparently in dire condition. The "micro burst" thunderstorm last fall pulled the roof up, and coupled with our harsh winter, has resulted in the back wall disintegrating and bricks falling from the structure. The perimeter has been fenced off for safety reasons. It will probably be only a matter of time before this landmark will have to be demolished.
This large three-story building was erected in 1868 following the burning of the wooden "Hannahs Block" in 1867 which formerly occupied the site. It appears on the 1871 Map of Albion. The first merchants were Robert McGregor in the north half, and grocer Benjamin B. Bidwell in the south portion. Local building George W. Maher also operated a business in the north half in the early 1870s. David Goodenow occupied the north side beginning in 1874 for a few years. George Bunday operated his dry goods store here beginning in 1882.
The building actually had a long history for dry goods. In the 1885 Albion City Directory, Bundy Dry Goods was located here at 26 (200) S. Superior St., and Slayton Dry Goods was located next door in 28 (202) in the south side.
This building was once the location of prominent businesses. From 1893 to 1896 it was the home of the dry goods merchants Jewett & Knapp. (Frank Jewitt and Joseph Knapp). They then moved it to Lansing where it became the J. W. Knapp Company: a fixture in downtown Lansing for many years. Upstairs on the 2nd floor lived the family of local hotel operator John H. Callahan, who operated the Commercial Hotel on W. Porter St. (the former Moose building we remember that was demolished a couple of years ago). In the 1890s the building was known as the Callahan Block, as labeled in the 1895 "Headlight" publication.
In the 20th century for many years, the building was the headquarters of Vaughn’s Men’s Wear, (originally Vaughn & Ragsdale), a clothing chain which had several outlets in the state. Lige (originally Elijah) H. Vaughn (1891-1982) was president of the firm of Vaughn & Ragsdale. By the way, he was the father of Jack Hood Vaughn (1920-2012) who became a U.S. Ambassador in Latin America. The company’s headquarters was located on the second floor, along with a living quarters apartment. On the third floor, local golden glove boxing matches were held here in the 1930s. Son Jack Vaughn was a boxing state champion in 1937 and went on to coach boxing at the University of Michigan in the late 1940s.
Following the closure of Vaughn’s in 1971, the building became the site of The Pizza Company in the 1970s, and later Danny’s Pizza during the 1980s. Unfortunately, the roof was not kept up as it should have been, and there was significant water damage due to leakage. By 1990, it became vacant. Subway Sandwiches & Salads moved here in the early 1990s, where it remained until it was recently closed by the building inspector. The 202 location on the north side of the building was the home of "The Movie Place," a video establishment, and in recent years, "Foxy Nails," which just vacated the building and moved next door to the old Lauer Radio & TV Service location at 204 S. Superior St.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present the 1894 photograph of the building when it was occupied by Jewett & Knapp, and another photograph of how it appears today. How many more of Albion’s downtown buildings will we see demolished in the coming years?
The Callahan Block in 1894
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic